The team is truly a talented bunch.
The team at Mara Consulting, winner of the Small Business Excellence award at the Hunter Business Chamber event last week, aren't afraid of the difficult conversation.
They have built a reputation for expertly managing projects with the potential for significant community outrage.
The key to getting this right is taking the time to understand people's concerns and, in some cases, fears.
Respecting people's right to a different point of view and feelings is an important first step in dealing with tricky issues.
"Change is never easy," Mara Consulting founder Kelly Loftburg said.
"But we find by including people in the decisions and projects that impact them, we get a better outcome.
"We use a range of tools to make the discussion easier, we even use Lego for deep diving into issues."
Kelly said despite the challenges of 2020, underpinning their success at last week's awards was the expert team of communication and urban design professionals that have just rolled up their sleeves and continued to deliver amazing projects.
"The team is truly a talented bunch," she said.
"Despite a new way of providing services and remote working, the team has successfully rolled out projects not only across the region, but throughout NSW and internationally."
Mara is proudly Hunter based servicing clients around NSW, Australia, the Pacific and North America.
Using a mix of consultation that informs a design process, Mara is regularly seen working on large scape projects, filling key expertise on city building projects, such as the East End Development for the City of Newcastle, award winning residential develops such as Parry Grande in Newcastle West, and major water projects including Belmont Desalination Project and the Lower Hunter Water Security Project.
Mara supports projects from the concept phase through to delivery.
For the design team, how people use spaces around buildings, connections and how the environment is incorporated into our daily lives is critical to creating not just liveable but playable cities.
The team at Mara believe great urban design is all about taking people into account when planning and developing projects.
"This is a big focus for local and state governments," Kelly said.
"Revitalising and enhancing town centres and open spaces to make them great places to live, work, play and visit enhances our wellbeing.
"It is even more critical post pandemic to make our spaces liveable and safe.
"If we have learned anything from 2020, it's that things can get tough quickly and we need to embrace the opportunities to be light-hearted and have fun.
"Glow in the dark footpaths, smart lighting that switches on and off or changes colour as you move through a precinct, swing sets instead of park benches - these are all fantastic additions to create places where people want to linger longer.
"Thanks to all our clients, supporters and the team for being part of our success in 2020. We are looking forward to welcome new projects and clients in 2021."